We find ourselves deep in Magna Grecia, in the area where the ancient Achaean population founded one of the era’s largest colonies: Sibari. And with a wealth of museums and archaeological sites on offer, there is no shortage of evidence of the region’s glorious past.
The Costa degli Achei is a particularly handsome stretch of coastline, with a succession of mile-long beaches of fine sand and precipitous cliffs that drop straight into the sea. The latter are frequently crowned by look-out towers and medieval fortifications, a number of which have been converted into restaurants or boutique hotels with unrivalled views.
This length of the Ionian coastline, close to Cosenza, is home to some of Calabria’s most renowned, indeed world-famous, products. The finest liquorice, to give just one example, is processed and sold here and even has its own museum. But this is just the tip of the iceberg. The Sibari district is full of gastronomic marvels, from PDO-certified Bruzio oil, to the wines Terre di Cosenza DOC and the delicious Moscato di Saracena, which has been included in the Slow Food movement’s “Ark of Taste”.
This is a region – with its atmospheric towns, citrus plantations and ancient history – that offers all the charm of the south: welcoming and hospitable, even for those who are looking for more than just a holiday by the sea. The Pollino National Park – Italy’s largest – is a complex mountain ecosystem that straddles the border between Calabria and Basilicata. This protected natural wilderness can reach upwards of 2,000 metres above sea level, and offers an unrivalled mix of scenic beauty and plant and animal life. Its high mountains are criss-crossed by dozens of trekking itineraries and are best explored at a gentle pace. Discover some of Italy’s most beautiful historic towns and villages, succh as Viggianello, Civita and the picture postcard town of Morano Calabro.
Discover the fascinating world of Magna Grecia at the archaeological excavations in Sibari
Revel in the beauty of Roseto Capo Spulico, with its golden beaches and medieval town centre
Look for signs of the small population of wolves in the woods of the Pollino National Park
Savour the flavours of Rotonda aubergines and peppers from Senise on the Basilicata side of Pollino
Bathe next to the waterfalls of the Peschiera river in the Magnano Woods of San Severino Lucano
Visit the Hohenstaufen Castle of Rocca Imperiale, with its four splendid towers
Relax and recharge your batteries at the Sibarite thermal baths in Cassano all’Ionio.
Get a close-up look at the amazing Codex Purpureus Rossanensis – the “Rossano Gospels” – at the cathedral museum in Rossano Calabro
Sample some traditional liquorice root and visit the “Giorgio Amarelli” Liquorice Museum
Learn about the Arbëreshë culture of Civita, the village of “talking houses”